Skip to content

The First “First Noel” Poem

December 25, 2013

In the Greek gospel of Luke there’s intended or unintended wordplay that hearkens to the literatures of Hesiod’s Theo-GON-y, Aristotle’s GENE-eration of Animals, and the Septuagint’s GENE-sis. The language is poetic, rhetorical, political, historical. Above all it’s Generative, GYNakatic, Birth-Womb-Earth-ish, sometimes Male-on-top sexist, other times subversively feminist.

A while back some of us looked at just Luke 2:14 (and some of us as Glorious Wordplay). This morning mainly to read aloud with my family, I had a go at more:


8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 25, 2013 11:15 am

    That, my friend, is truly magnificent. Startling and enlightening by turns. Thank you so much for this gift.

  2. December 25, 2013 12:41 pm

    Your kind comment makes me happy, Craig. I’m so glad you appreciate it so!

    (Well, I’m afraid initially I posted a version here that was, literally, without the Christ in it. Now the one that mirrors all of the Greek – and connotes some Latin and Hebrew – the one my family heard – is here.)

  3. December 27, 2013 5:06 pm

    Hi Kurk,
    Any chance of getting your text as text, rather than as an image? The font in the image is too small for me to read, and the image is apparently not high enough resolution to be legible once it is zoomed up large enough for me to read.

  4. December 27, 2013 5:20 pm

    Hi Victoria,
    Sorry it’s not clear in the post, and thanks for asking for text. I was trying to hold stable some of the formatting by using the image. Also I wanted the Greek and English side by side. Let’s see how this looks below (from a version I put in a Facebook comment) –

    There it was, delivered,
    In those many moments of their
    Being there, full, pregnant,
    Those days of expecting this child.

    And she gave birth to that son of hers,
    Her very first, first born child;
    And she wrapped him snug;
    And she made him a baby bed
    In a feed shed, because there was
    No Vacancy, for them, elsewhere
    In all those accommodations.

    And shepherds were there
    In those nearby open fields of theirs;
    And they were protecting precious lambs
    At night among all those sheep of theirs.

    And the Lord’s angel was standing among them
    And the Lord’s glory was shining upon them
    And they were terrorized, greatly, terribly,
    And it spoke to them, that angel did:

    No more terror!
    Look, my angel blessings are
    To you all, for enjoyment; great joy
    Is here, for all the people,
    Because she gave birth
    To you all, a sign, a savior,
    He is, Anointed Messias Meshiah,
    In David’s city.

    And this is to be
    To you all, the sign;
    Find a newborn snugly wrapped
    And baby bedded in a feed shed.

    And out of this pregnant moment
    Was delivered, with the angel
    A full army of the sky
    Singing praise to God
    And saying:

    Brilliance! Renown!
    In the highest places
    To Immortal God
    And low down on the ground
    Peace! Pax! Shalom!
    Blessedness! Respect!
    To Mortal Humanity

  5. December 27, 2013 5:30 pm

    Lovely – thank you!

  6. December 27, 2013 5:31 pm

    Here’s the Greek. I’m trying to do all this via an iPhone. Let’s see –

    ἐγένετο δὲ
    ἐν τῷ εἶναι αὐτοὺς
    ἐκεῖ ἐπλήσθησαν
    αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ τεκεῖν αὐτήν,

    καὶ ἔτεκεν τὸν υἱὸν
    αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον,
    καὶ ἐσπαργάνωσεν αὐτὸν
    καὶ ἀνέκλινεν αὐτὸν
    ἐν φάτνῃ, διότι
    οὐκ ἦν αὐτοῖς τόπος
    ἐν τῷ καταλύματι.

    Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν
    ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες
    καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς
    τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.

    καὶ ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς
    καὶ δόξα κυρίου περιέλαμψεν αὐτούς,
    καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν•
    καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ἄγγελος•

    Μὴ φοβεῖσθε,
    ἰδοὺ γὰρ εὐαγγελίζομαι
    ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην
    ἥτις ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ,
    ὅτι ἐτέχθη
    ὑμῖν σήμερον σωτὴρ
    ὅς ἐστιν χριστὸς κύριος
    ἐν πόλει Δαυίδ•

    καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν τὸ σημεῖον,
    εὑρήσετε βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον
    καὶ κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ.

    καὶ ἐξαίφνης
    ἐγένετο σὺν τῷ ἀγγέλῳ
    πλῆθος στρατιᾶς οὐρανίου
    αἰνούντων τὸν θεὸν
    καὶ λεγόντων•

    ἐν ὑψίστοις
    καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς

  7. December 28, 2013 1:48 pm

    That was beautiful, and fascinating. Thanks!


  1. A cliche at play keeps the doctor away « How my heart speaks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: